Play Impressions (And the Rest #2)

April 21st, 2009

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Here’s the next couple of titles I’m discussing in this series:

Dino Crisis 2

It feels strange playing a sequel and then looking back at its predecessor. On face value alone Dino Crisis 2 appears to be a step back from the original Dino Crisis which featured Resident Evil Code Veronica-esque fully 3D environments. Dino Crisis 2 in contrast reverts back to the storyboard of prerendered backgrounds and 3D character models ressembling the earlier Resident Evil games. In actuality though, Dino Crisis 2 gains and ultimately thrives on what it’s shed between the numbers.

You play as Dylan and Regina (the latter, who is placed in more of a sidekick role this time) on a mission to retrive a data disc and save a bunch of survivors from some perposterous time shifting incident which has resulted in dinosaurs invading several remote areas. The story doesn’t really make any sense, rather it’s used only to contexualize the prehistoric dinosuars meets modern day bullet carnage set up – undeinably an attractive proposition giving the game a unique flavour.

Dino Crisis is broken up into a series of interconnecting rooms with conjoining opening door and climbing ladder animations spliced between to cover load times. If you’re familiar with any of the Resident Evil games then you’ll already have a good idea of what to expect. It’s at this point where Dino Crisis 2 begins to splinter from it’s forefathers, finally justifying itself as an individual franchise, rather than a sub-series.

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Dino Crisis lives up to it’s namesake by throwing plenty of dinosaurs at you, along with a healthy swag of ammunition to help blast them away. A combo system is introduced allowing you to string together multiple kills to boost your score which is used as the in-game currency to buy more gear for your arsenal. The combo count is displayed during the loading transitions of each area. Being able to run and shoot (with a decent lock on system to boot) all make the experience a much more action intensive one and the monnetary use of slaying dinosaurs only encourages the player to be on the offensive. Some clever AI tricks and first person minigames come along to scruice things up when the experience begins to taper.

Overal, Dino Crisis 2 feels like Resident Evil freed from it’s tight shackles and arthtiric pain. The control is fluid, concept fresh and the execution well done. The game’s a little short, but the action goes a long way to justify the shortened length. One of the more seasoned hitters in the Playstation library.

Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IV is the first Castlevania game to break my virginity of the franchise, I’ve owned a couple of Castlevania games for a number of years now, but only recently did I dedicate my time into completing one of the games. Although the series is completely new to me, it feels wholly familiar and appeals to an immortal childhood expertise in the genre. I’m glad I started with this one as it’s pure, no-fuss platforming. There’s no overlaying exploration elements, this is a strictly a linear platformer. I need some time to become reacquainted with my childhood self before I dabble in the realm of Metroidvania exploration.

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The movement is intentionally slower paced and methodical as Belmont tries to stop any wind from flying up his chain mail skirt. I’m usually more mature than to make snide comments like that, but the contrast between the series’ early bulked-up protagonists and later white-haired, slender types is quite the contrast. Alas, I digress. The slower pace isn’t a weakness as it levels the rythmic balance between fending off enemies and platforming. If Belmont walked faster then he’d come in swooping distance of enemies quicker, and the game would be lean too heavily on enemy evasion which throws off the balance.

I infrequently relied upon the key supporting mechanic; the weapons and hearts system. The weapons only seem to aid in the downing of bosses, which is fine. There’s honestly not much to say about Super Castlevania IV. It’s a game very much of its time and will likely be enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation for 16-bit action platformers.

  • Dino Crisis 2 is one of my favourite PlayStation games, ever. I just really enjoyed abusing the combo system (by running into a screen and blasting a dinosaur, then running to the next perspective cut to trigger another, then run back and repeat the whole cycle. Collecting all the cards and weapons and unlocking the arena game at the end were all worth their weight in gold, too. That is, until you unlock the tank and are practically invincible!